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2019: What’s ahead for Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain?

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2018 has been a tough year for the cryptocurrency, we see some foundations of some very exciting things being built out for the bitcoin economy.

If we look back across 2018, it has been a wild year. Most of the promises of 2017 have been broken. 2018 has been a tough year for the cryptocurrency companies, the cryptocurrencies themselves and for the investors of course. But underneath all of that, we see some foundations of some very exciting things being built out for the cryptocurrency and bitcoin economy.

Top Predictions for 2019:

Non-fungible tokens:

Non-fungible tokens or unique assets such as crypto kitties are going to be a very important part of the cryptocurrency economy. There are already becoming a huge part and will continue to grow as time moves on.

 

Security Token Offerings:

Allot of people have been talking about STO’s or Security Token Offerings and the potential of STO’s to totally shake up the cryptocurrency economy. STO’s are surely going to be the new wave of money coming into the cryptocurrency economy. Large-scale tokenizing properties, equities, fractional parts of paintings and all these different things are going to be huge. 2019 is probably going to see a lot of STO’s actually happening and that’s going to be exciting and will probably be the new boom in the markets. Although STO’s might start off in 2019 it may only become big in 2020. This depends upon how quickly the infrastructure actually gets built out to start the STO market rolling.

 

Initial Coin Offerings:

Though 2018 has shaken up the investors confidence, there are still good ICOs and as we move forward in 2019 ICOs are gonna simply have to do better as investors are not going to be throwing out money on hopes and dreams as it was the case in 2017 though some of these came out to be quite profitable for investors. ICOs are surely going to continue in the coming year but we are going to see much more professional offerings which may mean that retail investors might not be eligible to invest in these ICOs. As the ICOs become more professional they may choose to go with only venture capital funds.

 

Bitcoin ETF

Bitcoin investors and enthusiasts are talking about Bitcoin ETF from years now waiting for the first ETF to get approved by the SEC. Prominent people believe that Bitcoin ETF is surely going to be approved but no one is sure of when it is going to happen. 2019 might be the year for the approval of the first Bitcoin ETF. The SEC has to give its final decision on the VanEck Bitcoin ETF on the next hearing which is scheduled for 27th February 2019.

 

ICO Projects

In 2019, we might see some more projects dying off. We might see some ICOs that were launched in 2017 who have been running short on money already especially those who are still holding their Ethereum dead. But not all are going to fail. Some of the projects that we see right now are going to be the next Amazon and Google of the blockchain economy. The fittest projects will not only survive but they will thrive.

Better user experience of Blockchain

The current user experience of Blockchain cannot be called as ‘awesome’. For the user experience to be really good, people who are using it shall not even come to know that they are using Blockchain. That’s where we need to be at. When we get to get to that point, we are surely going to onboard billions of users. We have already seen a lot of movements in terms of making a better user experience and in 2019, we are only going to get better.

Lightning Network:

Lightning Network has been building up significantly over the course of 2018. 2019 may be a watershed year for the lightning network and this could take bitcoin to a next level. Especially when we talk about things like micropayments, buying a cup of coffee, sending money for a packet of bread, etc. As lightning continues to grow in power and relevance, 2019 is going to be very important for it.

 

Tether:

Tether has been one of the largest controversies in the cryptocurrency economy mainly because of their lack of transparency. Although Tether has been quite useful as a whole to the cryptocurrency community at the same time it has brought some unnecessary drama. In 2019, Tether might lose its spot as the top stablecoin with more and more traders and investors moving towards other, more transparent stablecoins in the market such as USDC, Paxos, Gemini Dollar, and TUSD. Some of these might overtake Tether in terms of market capitalization in 2019.

 

Regulatory Clarity:

There are so many things in terms of tax regimes that actually disincentivize people to actually use cryptocurrencies like a currency such as countries such as India and China banning cryptocurrencies and others that say they love cryptocurrencies but still their parliament does not pass the supportive laws. As countries like Malta, Japan and Switzerland being supportive of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and related businesses, we might see other large nations giving more regulatory clarity in 2019.

The rise of Dapps:

Dapps have really suffered from not having a large user base. We actually need a Facebook level application built on Blockchain that would have millions of users and they might be coming. Big companies such as Kin are launching their own cryptocurrency, companies such as Line messaging which has over 60 million users are launching their own cryptocurrency and the Whatsapp dollar if the rumors are actually true. All these things combined could potentially bring in millions of users. Although some of these such as the Whatsapp Dollar which would be on the Facebook Blockchain might not be decentralized.

Increased Access:

Binance is planning to have 10 different fiat currencies that you can access Binance by the end of 2019. Currently, most of the trading is done in US Dollar and Yen but cryptocurrency economy needs more fiat currencies on board in order to grow further and spread out across the world.

Ethereum:

Ethereum seems to be taking a long time to get where it needs to be and in that time we are seeing Ethereum losing its market share to competitors such as TRON, Cardano, EOS etc who have already achieved things which Ethereum needed to achieve a year ago. Although, the team behind Ethereum is working day and night for the upgrades they are not here yet and might take a longer duration than their competitors. We might see Ethereum losing its spot in the top 5 cryptocurrencies by market cap and some other competitor which is probably performing faster and better will take over the position.

 

Is Bitcoin going to rise in 2019?

Although there are a lot of new things such as Bakkt Exchange launch, Nasdaq Bitcoin futures launch etc. in 2019 which is going to pull a lot of investments into the bitcoin market, the major price rise might be in 2020 during the bitcoin halvening.

 

How good will 2019 be for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Bitcoin and Dark web: Transactions increasing, Values decreasing

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The bitcoin transactions on the dark web, underground illegal marketplace have doubled in the last year (2018) in comparison to 2017.

The bitcoin transactions on the dark web, underground illegal marketplace have doubled in the last year (2018) in comparison to 2017 while the value of the transactions has decreased from around $700 million in 2017 to $600 million in 2018 as revealed by Chainalysis’s report.

 

Dark web not affected by the bear market:

It seems that the dark web is not affected by the bear market trend which led to the price of bitcoin to fall from over $19000 to around $3200 last year. Even during the bear market, the transactions on the dark web have been rising.

According to the report by Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis company, the value of the total transactions on the dark web was around $700 million in 2018 while the value of bitcoin transactions in 2018 was around $600. This was probably due to the shut down of dark web markets such as AlphaBay and Hansa in 2017.

The dark web websites have been experiencing massive growth in terms of the number of cryptocurrency transactions even though the prices of these cryptocurrencies have seen a tremendous decline over the past year. According to Kim Grauer, the senior economist at Chainalysis, the buyers and sellers on these dark web marketplaces really do not care about the price of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies while transacting. She also believes the in the coming time, the value of these transactions may further decrease as the governments are taking strict measures in order to shut down these markets.

 

Binance using Chainalysis:

Binance, which is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges revealed last year that it was using Chainalysis’s KYC and anti-money laundering software to prevent any illicit transactions on the exchange. The software by Chainalysis is used by companies to perform investigations in terms of financial transactions. The same software is also being used by many institutional clients of security firms for compliance.

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Trump Government Shutdown: Impact on Bitcoin ETF, Bakkt and Cryptos.

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The ongoing government shutdown is devastating for the crypto industry. Major functions of the government are simply not working right now.

The ongoing government shutdown is devastating for the crypto industry. Major functions of the government are simply not working right now. The SEC announced that it will be limiting its operations reducing its staff during the shutdown and restricting the functions to those that meet critical needs and unfortunately the Bitcoin ETF may not be a critical need to the SEC.

The US CFTC is also doing limited staffing during the federal government shutdown. There is no time limit as to how long the government shutdown is going to go on but the longer it goes on, the longer will be the delays for these key items that the people have been waiting for. So the possibility of an extended government shutdown could definitely impact the cryptocurrency industry in the United States.

 

Will the government shutdown impact BAKKT?

Obviously, it impacts the launch of BAKKT, particularly their futures because the CFTC does not have the staff sitting around to regulate. In fact, BAKKT has announced that basically there is an indefinite delay at this point on the launch of their futures contract which is unfortunate but considering the dysfunction or the government shut down in America, it’s not really surprising.

But in the background of all this, it’s not as though that the Intercontinental Exchange has just gone to sleep and forgotten about all of the things that they want to do. They have recently acquired an established futures broker hoping to strengthen their bitcoin offering.

 

Impact on Bitcoin ETF

This government shutdown could lead to one of the SEC’s longest shutdown in recent years. So maybe the Bitcoin ETF is going to remain at the table for a long time from now because we have to realize that when these organizations come back to work there is going to be a massive backlog which will depend upon how long the government shutdown goes on. The SEC and the CFTC both have issued orders freezing all pending administrative proceedings until further notice and this will not be changed until we see the federal government gets back to work.

The fascinating thing here is that technically if the SEC fails to approve or disapprove the Bitcoin ETF by the deadline the ETF, in theory, shall be automatically approved but the reality is that probably won’t happen. The SEC will probably just put out a one page denial or a one page request for withdrawal or a one page delay notice or something like that so even though they are running with a low staff, they are probably just going to keep kicking the can down the road on all these things instead of just letting it happen but there is still a technical possibility of the Bitcoin ETF getting directly approved.

 

Reg A+

Obviously, the Bitcoin ETF and the Bitcoin futures contracts by BAKKT gets a lot of attention but that’s not all that’s going on. There are about sixty different countries which have applied for Reg A+. Reg A+ is basically a mini IPO. SO this permits the eligible issues to offer securities to the general public and not just to accredited investors and some of these will definitely be cryptocurrency projects. But like everyone else, even these companies need to wait until the government shutdown is over.

 

Is Bitcoin influenced by the government shutdown?

Looking at Bitcoin, we can see that it is not super influenced by events like these. Although the Bitcoin ETF, Bitcoin Futures, BAKKT and all of these things get a lot of people excited but of course remember that we don’t need Wall Street. The SEC and CFTC are regulating for projects, especially for Wall Street.

The IRS has had to send home 56% of its staff. This is an agency which is already dramatically underfunded and then to send home even more of their staff during tax season means that not a lot of audits are going to be happening and they are already struggling to adapt the new tax policies which were put in place recently.

 

The State Level Innovation:

While the Federal Government cannot regulate during the government shutdown, the State Governments are pushing ahead with very innovative legislation and playing with this technology and trying new things. For example, Vermont is putting insurance on the blockchain, Nevada has issued 1000 marriage certificates on the Ethereum blockchain, Wyoming is bringing land records to the blockchain, Bitpay is helping Ohio accept bitcoin for taxes, two Colorado senators have filled a bill to introduce a digital token act which would allow cryptocurrencies to bypass securities laws which if passed could turn Colorado to a leading legislation within the United States in terms of cryptocurrency regulations and lastly, New York has become the first state to create a cryptocurrency task force which will be studying the regulation use and definition of digital currency.

 

Even though the Federal Government is having a dysfunction due to the government shutdown, there is still innovation happening. What are your thoughts on the government shutdown? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Bitcoin Lightning Network Updates 2019: Advancements and Forecast

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The popularity and commercial use of Bitcoin Lightning Network has increased at a very accelerated pace during the last few months. The reason is the improvement of the network day by day and increasing convenient and secure way of the transaction between consumers through this network. Being a peer-to-peer connection, this network gives features that even if two consumers are not directly connected to each other through a channel, any consumer on the network can do the transaction with another consumer on the network.

 

Let us have a glance on 15 new additions in Bitcoin Lightning Network in the last few months and also what could be the new features to come:

 

1. Fast payment:

Now, the payment done on the lightning network is so paced and frequent. You can compare this speed of payments with the speed at which data is transferred on the internet between connections. This has reduced the scalability problem of bitcoin for surety. No. of payments per second in the network has been increased considerably.

 

2. No restriction in the duration of the open network:

There is no any type of timeout kind of thing between the lightning network. That means that if both consumers wishes, the channel between them would be open for an indefinite time. Their channel will not be closed after a time and hence cost and time required to closing and restarting the channel has been minimized.

 

3. The enforcement of third-party for security:

Earlier, if in a channel, one consumer who wanted to steal money, closes channel; the second consumer has to report within a given time period to prevent the theft. The network is now planning to enforce third-part which wouldn’t be given any control over transactions but only performing the above function.

 

4. More secure routing in the network:

Unlike normal routing, in this network, a peer has only information of the previous peer and the next peer. A peer doesn’t have the knowledge of the originating and destination peer of the network in  Bitcoin Lightning Network. Thus, making it a more secure mode of payments and fund transfers.

 

5. Support more kind of payments:

Bitcoin Lightning Network now supports more kind of frequent payments, thus, there are only a few loads on Blockchain payment channel. Now, blockchain payment has only to take care of payments like closing and opening of channels of payments. Thus reducing extra overheads from the blockchain channel.

 

6. Functionality to close channel whenever desired:

Unlike regular connection, where there is a fixed timeout to close the channel, in this network, now two parties if agreed to each other can cancel the channel whenever they want. So, they don’t have to wait for unwanted time to close the channel even if the fund transfer is completed, they can close it immediately after mutual agreement.

 

7. Payment without invoice:

With this new feature, payment can be funded from one consumer to other without creating the invoice for the payment first. This new feature creates a fast streaming payment of funds. Now, the need of creating an invoice ahead of the transfer of fund which makes the fund transfer slower is non-relevant.

 

8. The functionality of single-funded channel:

Suppose a consumer wants to pay second consumer and the payment is uni-directional, then there is no need of another consumer to add fund in the channel and just a single-funded channel can be created with only first consumer participating and adding fund in the channel.

 

9. Payments across different blockchains:

Now, the lightning network allows payments across various different routes of blockchain provided they have same hash locking. Hence, the payment can be done from one channel of blockchain to channels of another blockchain only if they have the same hash code and locking.

 

10. No trust with third-party institutions:

The channel is completely shared between two consumers and no other third party has any access over the funds during the process of the transaction. This gives more security and safety to the fund transfer process done in bitcoin lightning network channel.

 

11. Provision of conditional payment:

Depending upon the result of some payment, now a probabilistic model of payment can be performed. This feature is known as sub-satoshi kind of payment. For example, A created a 1-satoshi kind of payment and pay B 0.3 satoshi with an odd of 10-to-3. This means that 70% of the time, A pays him 0 satoshis whereas 30% of the time, A pays 0.3 satoshis.

 

12. Less transaction fee:

Bitcoin is aiming to capitalize on small stores also. Hence, this network would cost a very little transaction fee, perhaps the least for any kind of transaction of funds. Hence, it could be used for daily purposed also like paying for restaurants, stores etc.

 

13. More Anonymity:

It will be impossible to track the payments completed through lightning channel network as a major part of these transactions take place completely isolated of the main channel of the blockchain.

 

14. Bi-directional fund channel:

For the very first time after the evolution of bitcoin, the funding has now become of two-sides. The lightning channel of bitcoin supports bi-directional fund channel.

 

15. Decentralized network:

Early testing of the bitcoin lightning network depicts that it is possible to have a decentralized network above the layer of blockchain transaction resulting to transfer funds from one peer to another peer even in multiple hops.

 

However, there are various still shortcomings. Bitcoin is aiming for various changes and upgrade in its technology to provide a more convenient and secure channel above the layer of the payment channel of the blockchain, thus increasing the scalability of the bitcoin payment. Let us also a brief glance at some upcoming features that the lightning network aims at:

 

1. Evolution of hubs like nodes:

A node similar to a hub in a network which would finally collect more than one payments of one or more peers would make a strong centralized network.

 

2. Reduce the complexity of the channel:

In the present time, the channel is very complexed. Several attempts are made by the bitcoin to make it a little bit simpler.

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